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|Scam Reporter||Scam Tips Received|
|Caroline Ruth White
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Business Venture Scam
| Conman Dermont Nottingham Auckland |
Evonne Puru came to Fair Go because of her concerns over the conduct of advocate, Dermot Nottingham. Evonne, who lives in Australia, needed someone back in New Zealand to represent her in an appeal to the ACC. The ACC had reviewed her back injury and decided she could work full-time again. Evonne disagreed. She said she could not do without ACC\'s weekly payments of $500.
Evonne approached Dermot Nottingham, who was associated with Advantage Advocacy Limited and ACC Union Limited. Evonne paid ACC Union Ltd a fee of around $13,000. In a letter, Dermot Nottingham explained that this fee included medical reports needed to argue her case. Evonne said she was told an appeal hearing should take place in eight to ten weeks. She was told she\'d have two doctor\'s reports prepared for the hearing.
But after nearly a year, only one doctor\'s report had been completed. Evonne had to pay the doctor for that report separately, even though Dermott\'s letter told her that her fee covered this cost. She was then told a second doctor would cost too much. But again, Dermott\'s letter had said her fee covered this. She was advised to come to New Zealand to do \"work trials\", where her ability to do a job would be tested at a workplace. She was also advised to travel to New Zealand to attend the appeal hearing. This would all be at her own expense. At this point, Evonne said she lost confidence in Dermot Nottingham, and told him she no longer wanted him to represent her.
She hired lawyer Philip Schmidt. He got two doctors\' reports, didn\'t ask her to attend work trials, or to attend the appeal hearing in person. He prepared the case in about a month. Evonne won her appeal. Philip Schmidt charged around $5,000, compared to the $13,000 Evonne paid to ACC Union Limited. Evonne asked Dermott Nottingham for a refund of part of her fee. The two sides could not agree on a figure.
Evonne said Dermot Nottingham was rude and aggressive when she raised her complaint. She said he suggested he would inform the ACC about information from her file that showed her to be a fraud. Evonne rejected that allegation and told us that several years before, she had been ordered by a court to repay money from the ACC. This had been done and she did not believe it was relevant to her appeal hearing. The ACC told Fair Go they were aware of the matter but did not regard it as relevant to the hearing.
Fair Go was also told by the ACC that it had decided it would no longer recognise Dermott Nottingham as an advocate. That decision was taken before Evonne had sought his help.
Dermot Nottingham also suggested there was evidence Evonne had lied about her injury, and therefore had committed perjury at the appeal hearing. Evonne, and her lawyer Philip Schmidt, said this was rubbish. Evonne\'s lawyer said that an advocate like Dermott Nottingham received a client\'s personal information in trust and in confidence. He said it was unacceptable to threaten to use it in this way.
Dermot Nottingham joined Fair Go in the studio. He said he did not have enough time to respond fully to the issues in a few minutes. He said he had documents which showed Evonne had perjured herself and lied to a doctor. He said it wasn\'t up to him to decide whether Evonne was entitled to a refund.
The only other contact we have had on this issue is a fax we received from the Board of Advantage Advocacy which said Dermot Nottingham was not allowed to front up to discuss our questions; that several staff had dealt with Evonne\'s case; that important witnesses in Evonne\'s case couldn\'t readily be contacted; and that finally, Advantage Advocacy had other clients to worry about.
However, every time Fair Go approached Advantage Advocacy after its fax to us, we ended up dealing with Dermot Nottingham.
Fair Go\'s view: Dermot Nottingham says that he has helped many people. That may be so, but we say that if consumers need an advocate for an ACC case, then based on Evonne\'s experience, we can\'t recommend Dermot Nottingham.
82 Goodall St Hillsborough Auckland 1042